There has been quite a few albums whiz me by in the last couple of weeks (even months), and it's actually quite tough for a reviewer to take. So having since finally drowned out what I wanted to review, and what I don't want to review at all, I've chosen to. Considering the next review is more straight-forward, this review is roughly tricky. The Script's new album, No Sound Without Silence has finally drowned on me, but let's talk about this album, and a band that has softly and slowly, gone missing.
There's a large chunk of audience that still remembers some of the hits by The Script, tellingly their major ones which are We Cry, The Man Who Can't Be Moved and Breakeven; all of which are singles from their debut self-titled album, which their new album is a prequel to. Now, the reason that those singles were so well-known and beloved by fans was because they were the band's breakout hits. It was 2008, which incidentally broke them into the mainstream. Of course, this allowed the follow-up to two albums soon after, and neither have been deadly on-par with their first album, nor even come close to being good. And what's really maddening? The band simply took off in a much more simplistic, streamlined mainstream direction that completely fell flat in my eyes. What's so bad about that direction?
There's a lot of bands associated to renaissance by heading into another direction, and Maroon 5 is a latest example. Yes Maps was a commercial success and Superheroes did not even come close (and you could say Maroon 5 was much more appealing than The Script any day of the week), but what really mattered was whether or not the audience loved it. While I liked the first album, the new singles come across as intimidatingly foreign. They did not seem to have passion nor versatility, both which carved The Script out of their comfort zone completely.
Take for example album #3. The single, Hall of Fame barely scraped the surface of The Script; it lent the voice of Will.I.Am, and while he was trash, the band itself lost focus. There was neither powerful undertone messages (other than the straight-forward one) and the band's precision for tenacity such as instrumentation power was weakened by chunks. When you re-listen to their old hits, there was a theme to it, and while Danny O'Donoghue did had a sense of unique tone, the band carried the tracks, not just the lead singer alone. Undoubtedly, No Sound Without Silence was pretty much the album that The Script did not need.
From the get-go, Superheroes was a messy single. It tried to blend mainstream essence along with guitars that seemed out of place, and parts of raw vocals that just did not fit at all. This made me feel wary of the album on a whole. And going into, the reception was not warm.
There's a lot of struggle this album faces. One of which includes lyrical ineptitude and depth, instrumentation problems and lots of improvement to be made.
To be fair, Danny O'Donoghue does have a lot of space to work his vocals around these songs, especially tracks like The Energy Never Dies and It's Not Right For You. Otherwise, tracks like Flares and Army of Angels truly show the opposite. And don't get me wrong, the drums on the album is very good. Paint the Town Green was a great track that infused a lot of rock sounds, pop melodies and jarring lyrical forwardness that seems to not be found anywhere else on the album. I for one, would love to hear more of tracks like these, but I guess not.
The other problems also include the band's direction: the shift from #3 back to their anthemic, heartfelt melodic rock, felt as if the band had lost touch of their old material somewhere along the way. Never Seen Anything "Quite Like You", Man on a Wire and No Good in Goodbye all seem to sound like solid tracks. But there's the problem there: it's not. They each suffer from lyrical implosion, instrumentation failings and are streamlined to the point of mediocrity. There is nothing likable about any of the tracks that had the topic of love in it. As such was it with the more toned down tracks like Flares and Army of Angels, which I had stapled above. In fact, the ones that worked are Without Those Songs and Hail Rain or Sunshine of which had an underlying message that didn't necessarily needed to speak to the audience.
Now, it may seem like I'm trashing on the album, but I'm not really. Disappointment has been spewing all across this review because I still brand The Script as a band that had fallen off after their first album and had never necessarily peaked again, despite the talents seemingly there. Such of which also includes other bands which I guess you already process and know about.
Favourite Tracks: Pain the Town Green, Without Those Songs, Hail Rain or Sunshine
Least Favourite Tracks: Flares, Army of Angels
The Script's No Sound Without Silence is essentially a step back in a forthcoming direction and undoubtedly, with renewed resonance and energy, I'm not sure if the band can actually turn things around in future albums.
Here we go! A year and a half later with their return from hiatus, Fall Out Boy released My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark, succeeding it with their fifth studio album Save Rock And Roll. Fast forward to present day and a logical progression continues in the form of Centuries, the new single from the band, including an upcoming album to be released early 2015. However, not everyone of us can have good things.
Obviously the song was highly anticipated since Pete Wentz tweeted about the single almost 3-4 days ago, with some lyrics showing up here and there which ultimately made up the chorus of the track. The song also includes Suzanne Vegas' track Tom's Diner which becomes very prominent for the single, appearing in the intro and the pre-chorus. However, for the pre-chorus samples, DCD2 label member Lolo who signed on since releasing her own single Hit And Run, sang them for the band. If you want an extra tidbit, the piano chords on the chorus are eerily similar to Requiem For a Dream. Coincidence? I think not.
I will straight up say that this track, in fact, the future of Fall Out Boy will not turn their backs to their previous records such as From Under the Cork Tree and Infinity On High. Not that both of them were similar or they were going to be replicated, but this new sound band will probably venture off elsewhere as they did with their record that eventually created negative responses from fans and critics alike: Folie à Deux. To be fair, that album was ahead of it's time, turning out to be one of the band's most underrated albums of all time. I will probably do a throwback review soon.
There's a lot of problems for this track, but one thing (or a few, actually) continues from their predecessor record, and that is Patrick Stump providing amazing vocals once yet again. The lyrics do match up in size, but for the most part Patrick's sound hits home yet again, singing 'I never meant for you to fix yourself!' with such aggressive tone that reminded me somewhat of The Mighty Fall. The lyrics aren't the best in the chorus with it being repetitive as well, but the verses do share similar tastes to their previous albums. Wentz does provide some decent lyrics, and even though they may look simple and plain, they are still easy on the eyes and ears but hardly belong in the catalog from their previous years.
However, the song itself falls apart around Stump's vocals like smashing water. It is simultaneously messy, complicated and compressing. Things like Wentz's bass aren't all that distinct, and Joe's guitars are even almost somewhat clear. Andy's drums are also almost robotic and hardly even right in the audience's face. The overproduced essence of this track proves that subtlety is gone from the get-go, which the band has also lent from Save Rock And Roll, namely the above track as an example (The Mighty Fall). Not only that, but the band's direction has also strayed from it's roots. As the members have said, they never make the same album twice. But Centuries could very easily fit on their previous album simply because it's similar in style and tone.
The song will be labelled alternative, but to be fair Centuries felt more like a pop record than anything like what they have done. Even Light Em' Up had the electronic guitars swinging through. This was more of a synthetic audio wave more than anything, and could prove to be a wrong step as far as it goes.
With that in mind, is the song bad? Not at all, though for the hardcore fans they will be put off by this single and the comments such as 'a band that peaked in 2007-9' will probably be plastered somewhere. Give this song a listen. If you liked Save Rock And Roll, chances are you will love this single. If you did not like their previous record, than I don't have to say anything else.
For now, Centuries is added on my playlist as I anticipate their new album.
Maroon 5's fifth album hits! Titled V, or 5, marks the band's decade over career in music which has seen them transpire from punk-rock, to a more electronic pop band that seemed to have suffice to their own musical tastes. However, does V hold up as a standalone album well? Or does it suffer from the mistakes that were seemingly culminating towards?
Most of the keyword here is going to be potential, and sadly mediocrity. Because it serves as a baseline to how great the album was gearing up to be, and ended up falling flat when it was right up the corner.
People will disagree, but I stand by the fact that not only was Maps a terrible single, despite it's commercial success, that I feel was a song that Maroon 5 could have dealt with it better. Instead, the song was kept under boiling conditions and never really flourished, much like the album succeeding it. Others said that Maps had great guitar work, but the main scope of the true meaning for the track was pretty much layered throughout the album: lyrics.
To be fair, Maroon 5 are not the best lyricists in the world. Much to my belief, this album drastically falls short in all fairness, and just so replicates the shadow that it trailed behind of Overexposed. What went wrong? Pretty much everything.
Let's start with a very blatant one, and that is Adam Levine's vocals. Time and time again, he showed potential: in My Heart Is Open featuring Gwen Stefani, he showed composure and effort. Leaving California also showed signs despite his falsettos ringing in other tracks, but in the end, it showed a lackluster effort to even make it better. It Was Always You felt carefully constructed and the potential with the guitars and drums can be heard. But there was stingy punch to Levine's vocals that peaked but never really shone again in the album from there on out. Regarding the falsettos, let's face it: the album did not need any of it. They didn't apprehend the weakness of the album and let it soaked through, leaving a very disdain effort that tasted bad for the mouth and never really came to fruition.
The instrumentals were on course for a disaster from the get-go. Nothing worked, not even the bass and the drums that Maroon 5 were previously known for. The guitars on Maps probably, in hindsight determined the starting gears, but failing to switch to a higher one proved that Maroon 5's compass may have led them to a darker road to possibly being simply wiped off. Unkiss Me's synth was a drawback to the track itself, but the main problems were fully scoped onto it's lyrics for the track. In New Love, the drums fell flat, and while the guitars were just rambling behind in the background. They weren't even right there in the forefront, and that made Levine's vocals overpowering and that made the album feel as if they wanted the audience to gravitate towards Levine, which was definitely a bad sign. Feelings probably showed both sides of the coin: light, fun and energetic, but at the same time consisting of everything that was bad in which I have said above. All in all, Maroon 5 settled for mediocrity for the instrumentals.
Dare I say it: this album is the worse album Maroon 5 has put out to date. That may have come off a blistering train wreck from Overexposed, but I have to say, the lyrics on their predecessor record proved to be sufficient and decent. On this album, everything went off the rails very quickly. Simple prefix issues with Unkiss Me, 'show me that phone in your pocket' for In Your Pocket, very easy-going fillers for lyrics in pretty much everything on this album. That is just recipe for disaster.
I will say Gwen Stefani on the album proved to be one of the only things that this album would have welcomed more so than. Nothing was forced, her vocals a very good juxtaposition to Levine's. But for her, even she can't save a single album by herself.
Favourite Tracks: Animals
Least Favourite Tracks: Maps, Feelings, Coming Back For You, Unkiss Me
The best word to summarize everything is that this record is disappointing. Not only did the band not learn from Overexposed's mistakes, but to go unhinged felt as if the band clearly did not care for the record nor it's fans. Maps was a good example, but even critics have a split opinion on the single itself. While I understand people will love it, I cannot see it being decent. The album suffered heavily from steady mediocrity, which was unneeded, and definitely showed Maroon 5's transition from punk rock to electronic pop; the results are clear. Not worth recommending at all.
A year ago, Ariana Grande, whom many have compared with the elevated Mariah Carey, would say that they were similar. I could care to disagree about that comparison, probably ranking Grande severely slots lower than the diva herself. However, I will say that Yours Truly was a niche album that truly worked well for Grande's vocal range and her choices regarding the songwriting on the album itself. However, after listening to Problem and Break Free, my doubts started to crash through very blatantly, thinking of how the album was going to go from the get-go. Did she deliver on My Everything though?
The reason my doubts crashed in after Problem and Break Free, the two lead singles from the album, is very clear; both tracks don't seem to work well in Grande's favor. If you listened to her predecessor record, you would understand most of the RnB tones on that record itself, translated to effective musicals that threw boulders. Problem and Break Free, threw pebbles, expecting the average audience to dance to a jam that had worked around the bush beating it, then getting straight to the point. I'm not saying it's bad music, but Iggy Azalea and Zedd's appearances on the respective singles proved redundant. I get the selling point (Fancy by Iggy topped the charts, even though I believe Charlie XCX owned that song; Zedd is a no-brainer EDM artist) and I probably would've one-upped it and said it was actually not bad. However, on paper, they should work. But the problems seemed to stemmed outside of the circle Grande was drawing herself around.
I will say this upfront: the album will please fans in easy fashion. The reason I say this, is not because of the similarity to Yours Truly (actually, that is quite the difference), but mainly because everything about this album is just served to fans as per what they want to hear. There is Grande's vocals, there are guest spots, there are lyrics about love, there is some EDM, there is some tracks with instrumentals, and there is ultimately an album that fans can get behind of. However, among what I have just said above, in between each track, there really is nothing to support the field.
First and foremost, people are going to compare this to Yours Truly. And to those who say it is similar, let me give you the answer: it's not. The only thing that is similar is style and Ariana Grande. Nothing else. For the producers to remove the RnB section of what made Yours Truly a refreshing take on pop culture, epitomizes why sophomore albums are in fact, really hard to do. This album is going to be a mainstream success, but not all of them are going to love what is put through their speakers and headphones.
Now, you've already seen that I disagreed with the removal of the RnB portion of this new album. Why? Honeymoon Avenue, Lovin' It and Piano encapsulates that these tracks, albeit not a top-tier songs that are infinitely great, but it does show that with the RnB section genre attached to the tracks, they provide a little bit more enthusiasm, and Grande's vocals shines when it needs to. In fact, in my opinion, these are probably the best tracks she's ever done. All three tracks are from her previous album, Yours Truly. Yes, you can ultimately say tracks like Right There and The Way aren't RnB side of things, but that's before the album dropped, and I agreed: The Way was a terrible track and had the same problems I had with Problem and Break Free (Mac Miller was fine if you're thinking the problem lies with him), and Right There was also suffocated with Big Sean's feature.
Next, Grande's vocals soar as ever. Tracks like One Last Time, My Everything and Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart shows that with her vocals eventually peaking to a higher spectrum. I will go one step further and claim that One Last Time is probably the best song on the entire album. This is because Grande's solo tracks on the album provide that peaceful thought and lays on with energy. The rest of the tracks slumber through as if you just opened a door to a party already half drunk; that's how bad it is.
The features are what I have the most problems with. Every feature is a problem. Yours Truly came out with four features (Nathan Sykes and Mika owned it although Popular Song wasn't exactly Grande's, thing is 2 out of 4 ain't bad) and I'll agree, not all were likable. But when you put 7 features on an album, you expect them to contribute to the quality. And they screw it up. Half of these features could've been removed and the album wouldn't even be as bad. Zedd and Cashmere Cat; not fantastic, not bad, could've been removed. Iggy Azalea, Big Sean, Childish Gambino, A$AP Ferg; totally not needed. On one hand, I would like to say Childish Gambino was probably the best out of the lot, but all of them could've been removed and the album would have been better in my opinion. The only one that deserved to stay was The Weeknd, and that felt like a big ask! This album felt more like a risky venture because every step of the way felt like experimentation, except on a much bigger scale.
The instrumentals were also damn near shallow. I understand the emotional concepts behind tracks like My Everything with the piano ballads, but throwing in Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out on a chorus that felt messy and complicated to the song (the song was Break Your Heart Right Back) felt extremely unneeded, what was the point of putting the track in it anyway if it's not really jumping off it. Even with the piano strings attached, such as Best Mistake, the song itself was devastating to listen to. Grande's vocals were even less than sub-par on that track, and even on others like Hands on Me and Love Me Harder. I don't know if the point was to do falsettos, but that just felt like lazy vocals right there. The lyrics don't even need to be said. They are disappointing in fashion, and to think that the potential was not just dashed but erased, felt like everything could've gone out so well.
Favourite Tracks: One Last Time, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart, My Everything
Least Favourite Tracks: Hands On Me, Best Mistake, Break Your Heart Right Back
I wanted to like this album, I really do. But going from loving Yours Truly to being 'okay' with My Everything felt almost as if wrong choices dipped Grande off the scale. Don't get me wrong, Grande is still a pop powerhouse in most cases, but if she's to return and to be taken as seriously with potential that doesn't seem to be wasted, then she should find new producers and new writers. Because these mistakes are blatant, glaring and needs to be corrected. My Everything could've flown off the hinges. But now, it's stuck because of things that shouldn't even have been there in the first place. It's a disappointing record overall.
So T. Swizzle released her new single off of her upcoming fifth studio album titled 1989, which is the year she was born. The album drops on October 27th, 2014. With that, I give you my thoughts on the song and disregard the music video entirely.
I'll admit, I'm not the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world. But there's something that kind of feels frustrating to me, when fans reiterate their desires and Taylor's ambitions that she's more of a pop star than a country star. I get that, she's evolving with her music and as a person, and this new album would also mean that she ditches the country feel off of the album. I have a little problem with the country aspect of the song.
When I Knew You Were Trouble was released as a single, and even before that was We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, the reception was near appalling to very tense polarizing by fans and critics/reviewers alike. I am feeling the same with Shake it Off, the lead single off of 1989. The reason I compare this track to the previous ones are how similar in tone they are. If I'm going to match it, I'd go with 22, and I'm not a big fan of that song. However, this track might just be the one thing that makes or breaks Taylor's transition from country and pop, to solely pop.
Don't be mistaken; Shake it Off does have some sort of semblance to Red (the album), but the way that this track goes about issuing the responses to the 'haters', her social aspect and the media, felt very ordinary. The lyrics don't stand out, the signature trumpets and beats fall flat. Even her vocals and the break down after the second chorus felt messy. But, there's something that this track kind of separates from the other singles, and this is from my perspective.
Red was a commercial success; I'm not going to say it's a bad album because there are main elements in the album that was emotional and she kills it. But, some of the aspects of her songwriting evolve around solo songwriting aspects, rather than getting in outside, rather just-before-hitting-their-peak songwriters to help craft the song. And this grinds out to a very, insanely mundane, generic pop track that is, to me, very forgettable.
Yes, she does shake things up and guitars don't necessarily fall in line with the track (they're almost removed, and guitars are signature for a Swift track), and it does show that she does kind of have the grit to take these things off and wander in a new direction. It's not bad, but the execution is.
I don't feel the hate that's coming her way in the same veins when she parties hard with 22. People say Red didn't have good lyrics, and that wasn't true. Maybe Taylor can do something out of the ordinary with her work, but at the moment, I'm worried that this new album not only strays too far from her roots, but also becomes an inter-scope of the music industry on a whole. Experimenting isn't a bad thing, but you don't make a big leap with a new album. Change dissolves slowly because Shake it Off, on first listen, left a bad taste on my mouth.
Don't mind me, because this song is going to be a hit within days. This is going to be the new pop anthem for weeks and maybe months, but let's take a step back and assess what Taylor can offer. Teardrops on My Guitar, Enchanted and even to a certain extent, Red, were tracks that Taylor feeds off of with manic relieve. And this helps not only her to create songs that are very creatively sounded and feels authentic and raw, but to the audience and the fans, it feels genuine. And some of the tracks of such caliber has the genre 'country' subbed in it.
So for me, Shake it Off isn't revolutionary to Taylor's change because she's done it before. And to an extent, shows strength of what she's capable of. Maybe I'm missing the mark of my review, because I don't feel it is one? I would say this is more of a discussion than anything else. Do I expect something big from Taylor in 1989? Definitely not. Do I think she will deliver? Yes. But is she going to hit a home-run? That is the big question.
For my single reviews, I will revert to sentence reviews now. I'd say that this track is fun and enjoyable, and I've added it to my playlist. But to be honest, it's not that great.
Man, after long weeks of some work, I get back to looking at the Billboard charts, and guess who's at the top? Magic! I mean, Magic? Okay...? Ever since getting free from my work and really getting back to the musical enthusiast side, I felt that since new albums are coming up (Ariana Grande's My Everything is dropping in a few weeks from now), let's talk about this one.
So the debut album from the Canadian reggae fusion band, titled Don't Kill The Magic, was officially released a month ago. To my surprise, I found their hit-song, Rude, on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week and man, was I confused.
Now, not many reggae acts with decent quality and viability have been able to sustain in the English, US, UK mainstream scene, let alone even touch it. With a pop, Magic!'s Rude instantly became popular (I have no idea how, so let me give you a simplistic review of their single).
Rude is mediocre, makes no sense lyrically and reeks of absence of decent expression. I don't detest the song personally, but I don't get the song's popularity. Considering it knocked Fancy off it's perch on the Hot 100, it should be a good song, right? Rude does not deliver on all cylinders and merely leaves some un-turned. Yes the problem does lie in the lyrics, but the vocals don't do itself justice as well. The line 'why you gotta' be so rude' makes no sense to the father saying no to a marriage. I mean, I would call somebody rude when they start spewing insults to me, not decline an invitation or blessing. The only thing that was decently adequate was the instrumentals. The percussion and drums are all pound-in, very synonymous alongside each other. Unfortunately, pulled down by an abomination ringing around it's rose.
And... that's really the entire album. There was potential. Not squandered, but rather disinterested with their own appeal. The mainstream audience may love the melodies on the record, but nothing jumps out to me as creative nor inspiring. Thus, in my opinion, the only thing coming close to being truly decently above average, is Mama Didn't Raise No Fool. That is probably the best song on the record.
Now, I know the band wants to imitate the likes of The Police, who were very popular and was a very important band during the late 80's, but I just don't see Magic! being able to hit that stride. Let Your Hair Down, No Evil and Stupid Me have weak vocals, unmotivated lyrics, and the fact that they peach nearer to the reggae side, they might as well have been a pop rock band.
At this point, I understand somewhat the direction and it's appeal. Okay, they aren't the best band in the world but they aren't flat out terrible. To go from a great start in Rude, to an abomination by the end of the single left me wondering if the band truly had any idea of the direction they were heading for. The drums on Little Girl Big World and guitars stick out on the podium, but the vocals are just on a different opposite pole. The lyrics are just picking up with what is just leftover.
Their next single, which is the album title, really lends to the fact that the band definitely have no clue in their expertise. As such, Magic! is just a hit and run, smash and grab musical artist. I will see them when they release a new album, but I expect it to be better than this. If, they truly are better than this.
Favourite Tracks: Mama Didn't Raise No Fool
Least Favourite Tracks: Almost everything else
Good percussion, drums and instrumentals, weak tone, weak lyrics, weak presentation and absolutely sluggish finish. To even see them hit the Hot 100 chart baffles me. Magic! has to improve or they will master the act of disappearing.
After recent succession, with a more popular view now, surely Sia can hopefully replicate what was heard from her previous album, We Are Born? Or will 1000 Forms of Fear truly downplay what we've been hearing all along? Well, 6 songs in and I have no idea what I'm in for.
1000 Forms of Fear is Sia's sixth studio album, which is 4 years since her last studio album. Obviously, this album was made after Sia's overdose, and with a new-found character, she has definitely made a new name for herself after writing songs for other artists (e.g., Diamond for Rihanna). I have praised Sia's vocals in the past, and when she appeared alongside other artists, she was always outshining them on their records. However, on this particular album, everything was just all over the place.
Let's start with the production. It's impressive on the ears when it first hits; the piano chords on Chandelier, Eye of the Needle's drums. Maybe, that's not the considerable problem because on Hostage, it just feels as if reverb took over. The synths in Fair Game is underwhelming and the drums that comes after the bridge is spastic, there is nothing to show for them. The instrumentals are simply bland, lack creativity and doesn't even have the slightest depth to put itself out and place it within comfort of the listener. Well I guess maybe Sia didn't necessarily had this planned considering maybe she's gone for a more lyrical and vocal approach for the album?
Nope. Vocally, the tracks are weak. Chandelier starts off extremely good, but it downplays it's strength by simply removing the cutting edge of it's sword. The chorus, replaced with falsettos, offset Sia's vocal talent and makes her feel as if she's unable to reach the high notes. The solution here would be a very simple answer: she can. That exact moment felt like shortchange; all the build up for a mediocre chorus that simply did not have the slightest bravery to grow, and rather took the safer route of trying not to become too repressive. For those saying maybe she was trying to protect her voice, I get that. If she couldn't sing the notes on the chorus, however, she does pull out some impressive ones on songs like Eye of the Needle, Fire Meet Gasoline and Free The Animal as well, so that is just simply not good enough.
The lyrics don't even show up on songs like Hostage and Burn The Pages. Fire Meet Gasoline, Free The Animal and Elastic Heart featuring The Weeknd and Diplo were easily the best song on the album. Of course, they don't have the best lyrics, but at least the songs were self-aware. The rest of the tracks were simply in disarray.
The tracks that were good had amazing vocals from Sia, while those which were worse, also had weak vocals as well. This album had plenty to show and was let down by the next track once again. It doesn't seem to prove anything, doesn't even seem to try and Sia just feels generally off focus on this album.
Favourite Tracks: Elastic Heart, Free The Animal, Fire Meet Gasoline
Least Favourite Tracks: Chandelier, Hostage, Straight for the Knife
While I wanted to like this album, I was fairly disappointed by the end product. It's a decent album and while there are tracks that aren't that amazing, it's still fairly enjoyable.
Well I sure as hell was anticipating this album considering I liked +, though not to a full extent, but it did bear brunt most of Ed's capabilities in that record, and fans had an idea of what he sounded like. Will Multiply, also known as X, showcase that same strength or will it downtime his talents?
+ (Plus) had a lot of problems that probably had some to do with Ed's songwriting structure and melody itself, though it fit the album perfectly. Some of the tracks were varying and inconsistent, at times going for the jugular and then the next moment, the album was taking a step back. While it was surprising to hear some of the content on the album, it was really hard to swallow what one was hearing from the different tracks that was thrown everywhere. So, how did Multiply do?
It's really tough to say what is bad about the album, considering from what I've heard, Multiply feels more like an experimental production record that, in a general scope, would be the same as Plus but with more intricate, retrospective elements to it. Though that may feel like a bad thing, it is one of the few things that really stand out from the album.
The production on the album doesn't necessarily deter itself from the content that Ed is trying to imply and say, but it doesn't also lend a hand all that much without taking some points off it. Say for example on Sing, Ed's vocals do seem tight and out of place, for which perhaps Pharrell had an idea that didn't quite fit for the artist at hand.
Obviously Ed Sheeran's humble approach to his music does put things in perspective and botches up a point for himself, but on this album especially, the under-weighed tracks like One, The Man and Tenerife Sea, are probably the least stand-out ones basically because it tells of something that was probably not necessarily unheard of before. Love was a main subject on Plus, and it is the same here, though it lifts more weigh than it could possibly harbour. While I had wanted to hear more (alcohol does play a huge part on Multiply) it doesn't really knock itself down too. The lyrical content don't necessarily immense the audience, but it does lighten things up and does introduce you to the artist himself more.
While I do expect more of a traditional songwriting, acoustic semblance of it back in Plus, for this album, the tracks feels as if they succumbed to the pressure in which it built from itself from the previous album. They just simply didn't cut it. In fact, for me, the best songs on the album was I'm A Mess and Afire Love. The rich, ever-growing production laced with the guitars and piano was simply too hard to overlook. The two songs were unfortunately, brought back down because of how the album was ordered.
Multiply is clunky. It is a solid album no doubt, but it isn't amazing. It is interesting and intricate, and does lift some weights, but the overall impression is lowered because of how the songs sounded that felt completely overwriting each other on the same level. They were overwhelming and than underwhelming in the next instant, within the same minute. It felt the same with Plus, though here, Ed Sheeran does up the ante and brings up his production, rather than being closed in with his guitar once more.
Favourite Tracks: Afire Love, I'm A Mess, Bloodstream
Least Favourite Tracks: One, The Man
On an overall view, Multiply is a great album. It does raise your expectations high, but be prepared to be underwhelmed. Though the tracks are easy on the ears, they don't necessarily leave an imprint. Ed Sheeran's music is still captivating, and that is all that is needed.
Now come on; we can resort to better ways of saying 'selling out', right?... right?
So Maps is Maroon 5's latest and first single off of their fifth studio album, V (which is 5 in Greek letters). I know, there's a lot of debate going about the sound change (after Overexposed? Who would've knew), but the fact remains the same: is Maroon 5, the same band as before?
Obviously I'm not going to call out on the fans for their loyal support over the years, but Maps has got to be a new low for me. While I recommend some of Hands All Over and as much as five songs from Overexposed, I feel that the band's lyrical and production strength has been strained to the limits, with tracks that either don't match previous quality or simply suffocate because of too much production that a track alone can handle. I'm not saying that the band can't do over-produced tracks; hell, listen to Sad from their recent album and you'll notice a tinge of potential that seems awfully wasted and destroyed even though it highlights Adam Levine's vocal strengths. So, where did Maps go wrong?
Like I said, Hands All Over was probably the only album I liked before the band had released more pop production, and Misery felt more inclined on the edge of Songs About Jane than their past three albums combined. I'm not here to skin the band, but if you listen closely to some of the tracks that they have done, they have just been simply lackluster and devoid of inspiration. Unfortunately, the new single probably wires off and ventures into a contrast of what they were a decade ago.
I understand that they wouldn't do something of the same from their debut single, but Maps was just insipid. The drums feel automated, the guitars don't stand out and Levine's vocals fall short of grace. They aren't seemingly poignant, and seem to be a half-arsed attempt at 'we're still doing something for the industry'. I don't judge the album based off a single, and while I may seem to like it later (Payphone was decent, Overexposed was not), it just gets worse and worse. Even the lyrics don't seem to be an attempt to make them good again. The bottom line is: they don't even seem to be trying.
While I can see that it appeals to the mainstream audience, I cannot overlook the devoid quality that has dropped in huge amounts. Insipid and lacking flair, Maps definitely doesn't serve a better dish than the ones before it, and I'm not looking forward to anything they put out for now. It's disappointing for sure.
I know some of you guys have been patiently waiting for this album for almost a month (me too), but it has officially leaked today and you can stream it over at iTunes (in full), over here. I also do know that most fans tend to wait until the day of release to listen to it whole, but I just couldn't resist. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my review for Linkin Park's sixth studio album, The Hunting Party. These reviews are opinion-based, so let me know what you think in the comments or tweet me; I appreciate it.
For those that didn't know because I really didn't talk much about it here, I have always been a big fan of all the Linkin Park records, except for maybe Minutes to Midnight. It's natural that the hype will emerge as it did 2 years ago when the band released Burn It Down, which probably was not expected considering the direction that they had taken with A Thousand Suns. That isn't to say that Living Things wasn't an amazing record. Yes, it had flaws. And so does The Hunting Party. But the main question is, does it live up to the expectation of a Linkin Park album everyone desires? Yes.
Long story short, the album is great in many aspects and key areas, most prominently the guitars and drums. But before I venture hard into some of the things that I consider amazing or great, we'll take a look at some of the crashed weights that came along.
Obviously, the lyrics are pretty much seemingly a non-factor in the album, either really underused or just simply reused. But you could see that glimmer of promise, and you could see that spark of potential in songs like Until It's Gone, Rebellion and to an extent, Final Masquerade. While people see lyrics being slightly less under the overall music to the track, I cannot help feel that it is always possible to bring that creativity side to lyrics considering A Thousand Suns, politically charged, had proven that Linkin Park can write fantastic lines, but maybe they weren't trying to be extensive for this record.
Next, the issue I have is probably Joe and Chester's work on the album. Chester's vocals I probably am more understanding to now than I was a few months ago, but Joe doesn't seem to be doing much on this record. That said, the synths maybe do count, but the overall tracks are lead by mainly the guitars and the drums that hits hard and snares the attention of the audience more so.
Lastly, some of the tracks feel thrown in. They don't seem to match a certain criteria, but maybe because of it's broadened edge that has been comprised and fit to the album, it kind of suffices with it. They don't feel much, and they also don't weigh heavy either.
That said, after concluding and knowing the album's drawback (not a lot is it?), that's when the album immediately clicks. And hits hard.
When the album was pictured to be heavy and visceral, I had never imagined it to be like this. Keys to the Kingdom, War and All For Nothing are amazing tracks that are probably what the fans of the band have been waiting for for almost a decade. And yet, there are tracks that are for everyone, with Final Masquerade being a softer track compared to the rest. Still, the tight corners are what makes the album impeccable to listen to.
The production on the album from top to bottom is seamless. The chords, the riffs, the drums all fit organisingly well. That's when the album shines, with many of it's key instruments being a vital core to the tracks that made it work not only efficiently, but in damn near satisfying passion. Tracks like the singles, Mark The Graves and a Line In The Sand are some of the better examples that showcases the band's strength through opulent instrumentation that they dare to show and reveal.
Mike and Rob are probably the unsung heroes, with the latter more than the former. Mike's raps, although missing from the first few singles, has come out and hit hard on tracks like All For Nothing and Wastelands, whereas his vocal duo with Chester on most of the songs provide the continuation that happened back on Living Things, which was fantastic considering that their chemistry is amazing when put together. And it's really easy to say, that Rob was probably the unsung hero of the entire album. He never missed a beat with his drums, always on point, always hard and always on the forefront. He was never absent throughout and he brought half of the visceral edge along with him. Rob is amazing on the record.
The features do hit and miss agonizingly well. While I do think Rakim did a great job on the lead single, Paige Hamilton from Helmet doesn't seem to coincide with being proper. The track itself didn't really feel like a Linkin Park track to me, maybe considering that it felt a little out of place (but it segues well into Guilty All The Same). There was maybe nothing much that Daron Malakian could do considering he gave one of his signature riffs on Rebellion, a vocal or two would be nice, but I'm not mad that he didn't do it. Lastly, Tom Morello was forgettable, though he was probably tasked to do something slightly different, and Drawbar is a great track nonetheless when it hits the piano chords.
I also guessed that people had already figured out that Linkin Park had defined their sound two albums ago. The shift in tone from Minutes to Midnight to A Thousand Suns not only broke their chain of consistency, but it gave the band inspiration and life. In fact, there were callbacks to previous records. A Line In The Sand had the same drum pattern to Victimized from Living Things and Chester's vocals hammering just like With You back in Hybrid Theory. Of course, the guitar riffs are similar to that of Guilty All The Same, but the point remains: the band itself has a wealth of experience from the five albums that they have made in the last decade or so. Such diversity allowed the albums to broke free from being conceptualized, rather than saying 'modern rock needs to be altered to match its past' so that it is what it is today. The band doesn't need to follow the route. However, with a much heavier record, they are certainly going to attract attention that rock maybe soon back in business.
And while I mentioned that Chester's vocals seemed to have suffered in quality, I believed that maybe his sound did match what the album was looking for: a real raw edge. While his voice could be mixed in Living Things and A Thousand Suns, it showed on this album that he is still consistent albeit singing in an circumstances (Keys to the Kingdom showcases this extremely well).
Favourite Tracks: Mark In The Graves, A Line in the Sand, Wastelands, Rebellion
Least Favourite Tracks: Until It's Gone
The Hunting Party is essentially the album that both sides of the spectrum (the old fans and the modern fans) will love. People need to be reminded that the band will no longer go back to Hybrid Theory nor Meteora, but rather embrace the fact that the rock vibe is still kicking within this album. In a closing sentence, Linkin Park has delivered yet once again.
I was actually adamant of making it all the way to the release of The Hunting Party before I talk about any more tracks when Wastelands was released. 4 days later, Rebellion knocked on the door and just after, some of you guys wanted a review of them both, so here it is! To make it clear, I will be talking about Wastelands first before moving on to Rebellion.
When I had heard that Linkin Park were going to start writing on their sixth album and that it would be titled The Hunting Party, I believe for me the hype train had already left the station. Yeah there was a great track (Guilty All The Same ft. Rakim) and a rocky stumble (Until It's Gone), but they didn't made me feel like "this is the song that would really give me the push that would get me really excited for this new album". And Wastelands was dropped almost a few weeks after Until It's Gone and I am officially ready for their new album.
There was something likable about Wastelands. They brought the guitar riffs back to the forefront again (more so with Until It's Gone than with Guilty All The Same). It was so dominant and so engaging that really puts you back into that Hybrid Theory - Meteora era. In other words, good memories.
Also, Mike is back! With 2 powerful verses including a Beatles reference (John with no Yoko) and he doesn't dwell on it. Great flow, good lyrics and pounds on to it consistently. While I say I have been missing his verses, you really see that his voice wouldn't go really well with Guilty All The Same's production, thus Rakim was brought in (I'm not even mad).
I will be called critical, but I can sort of understand why Chester's vocals aren't as volatile as they were before, and though in Living Things you can get that (Victimized, Lost in the Echo, etc.) and maybe he still showed that he had it when he did the vocals on Until It's Gone. The fault wasn't on Chester at all for the track in my opinion. While I rated the track pretty low, he did amazing on it. It could be the age catching up, but as long as he still gives us consistent performances, I am happy. On Wastelands it does feel like he's forcing himself too. And yeah, the similarities of this track to Guilty All The Same does seem familiar (in the wastelands of today/you're guilty all the same), but it's probably one of my favourite tracks out of the three.
Then Rebellion was released to BBC Radio featuring Daron Malakian from System Of A Down. In a space of just 4 or 5 days, I got back on the hype train immediately.
The Rebellion felt like a one-shot scare, because on first listen, they don't ajar to you that well and it doesn't show it's sophisticated nature by 'popping out'. Rather, that's when you pick apart the song and pile it upon again that you realise some of the essences that are within the track, and the plate is plenty full.
Daron's guitar riffs are so wealthy that you really hear the work behind System Of A Down being constructed within it. He brought so much to the table that the riffs became so integral to the song. It's probably disappointing that he didn't even drop a line for the track, but I'm fine with it nonetheless.
Next, the vocal duo of Chester and Mike is captured once again and it is flawless. They did it back in Living Things with Roads Untraveled, Castle of Glass and Skin To Bone, and to hear it again definitely did bring back some of the tone. Not to forget, the lyrical content does re-surface to be similar to the A Thousand Suns and Minutes To Midnight days as well. Songwriting-wise, the track is fine.
The synth line here also works very well when accompanied with the vocals and production, that you really get a taste of it. And so are the drums; Rob needs to get credit for some of the spectacular work he has put out so far. He is killing these songs.
However, it felt like it had too much. It wanted to showcase the different styles and the interchanging, but it became quite a blur. Don't get me wrong, it is still a good track and I'm not taking anything away from it.
All in all, I have to say that Wastelands and Rebellion did more than twice what Guilty All The Same and Until It's Gone could've done. If you still aren't hyped up for The Hunting Party then you might be missing out on a few action. Overall, Rebellion had pretty much everything and just about edges Guilty All The Same, but in my opinion Wastelands has got to be my favourite single from their new album, topping them both.
Rebellion ft. Daron Malakian: 8/10
Just like Cher Lloyd's album title, well, sorry I'm late. I was supposed to do the review yesterday but yet I'm actually compensating to you guys now, but hey, at least I delivered (I think). This is my review of her sophomore album, Sorry I'm Late.
Yeah, for those who haven't been around since 2012, Cher Lloyd has been somewhat down and up in her career after some late bolstering hits wavering through from a disastrous first single straight out from X-Factor (Swagger Jagger). But, does that mean that the album increases with hype and that the quality on it is at least good? That slightly adjusts to what we're talking about mostly.
On most tracks, the album is more or less a success because of the impeding structure that seems to be core to it. However, without being repetitive, although a sizable amount leads to the album sinking because of a lackluster support from the production, may well just hang it in the balance. The album is fine, though at the mediocre expense of a lot of things.
The album feels clunky, generic and feels less grounded, although it does lift off higher than Sticks + Stones after all that has been said at this point. The album is more mature content and lyric-wise, but still suffers from the jaw-breaking disappointment of the unwillingness to change and adapt rather than continue leaving at that.
I don't want to offend most fans by saying that the album isn't really all that great at this point. But, I guess I didn't have much in the wire in the first place. Let's run through the negatives that mainly surround this messy album.
The album mainly splits off from the get-go immediately. With an album title like that, the tracks could go anywhere. However, most of the formula that is used are pretty similar. M.F.P.O.T.Y. feels like another party song without much creative input and even lesser production to back it up. That more or less also clashes with Dirty Love (which also suffers at lyrical expense). Some of the tracks don't fit the bill in the way it is supposed to and don't seem to upfront about it. Most of the directions taken here are either not risky enough, or just simply safe so that the album can run its course naturally. That simply 'run-off-the-mill' type of tracks don't have as much impact as they were supposed to, making them filler tracks or non-relatable in different ways.
Next, sacrificing production for lyrics (which didn't exactly go well either) feels to be weird and fails. Just for the sake of a guitar on Bind Your Love (which is an okay track), to so-called 'up it with' synths and reverbs are simply disappointing. It's better not to even start with it when the production takes over from the chorus onwards. While it isn't a big problem, it's definitely worth nothing considering one of the better tracks titled Goodnight was a stripped down acoustic version which was simply a home-run in my opinion. This shows that most of the time Cher's vocals kind of save the album simply because it's other flaws are too visible.
I can't really complain lyrically. Cher hasn't been known for her lyrics anyway (Want U Back has simple lyrics don't matter much in between), but sacrificing some of the high notes of the album for it and still not even making up for it, it just feels shortchanged and shoe-horned so as to 'better' the track in another way. Just Be Mine and I Wish (I knew I gave it a pretty high score, but I kind of beat it down now) kind of sits comfortable in their area.
Though, I must say, that the album shines in it's hollow avenues. Tracks like Goodnight (which I have said above) and Sirens, although I don't like it too much, are probably the best tracks on the album. Obviously, topping that list would be Human. The vocals and the emotional depths bring this album from the brink of redemption. It's probably one of the better reasons to buy the album. Cher's vocals are immense throughout the album and probably helps on a whole to balance out a very cheesy and generic album. Although I do say that, some of the tracks might not deserve as much hate as others, but are still equal pairing when compared.
Favourite Tracks: Human, Goodnight
Least Favourite Tracks: M.F.P.O.T.Y., Dirty Love
I wanted to like the album and had pretty high expectations for the album. It didn't topple though, but I would still recommend the album to others. Fans of Cher will love this album to death.
I can see that while Coldplay doesn't necessarily hit the ball out of the park with Mylo Xyloto, at least they make their amends with Ghost Stories, the band's sixth studio album. However, it is surprising, but do fans want Coldplay's older sounds, or their experimental directions? And, does this album grants the reviews it's had so far (which has been mixed to positive)? It's really all hard to say at this point.
Fair enough, I get the hate train that's been knocking on Coldplay's door for almost 2 years, but when you look beyond Mylo Xyloto (overrated? More like underrated), it doesn't look as bad as it seems. Of course, there are very peculiar tracks and very underhanded lyrics that seems to be shoe-strung onto the album, it does impress production wise and something that Coldplay usually doesn't deliver on. Their production usually builds up steadily (take a look at their new singles Magic and A Sky Full of Stars) and it really surprises at how great Coldplay is at handling it. Of course, it doesn't really match up to Viva La Vida nor Rush of Blood to the Head, but it seriously doesn't deserve the hate it has been getting (the singles more than the album really).
Heck, I was genuinely afraid of their new material ever since Mylo Xyloto was put out. Midnight was quite literally intolerable for me on first listen. Chris Martins' vocoded vocals don't seem at the all interesting, and definitely feels a lot better when put side-to-side on the track-list. Their new singles really didn't awe me that much. Magic, while I personally liked, I felt it didn't really impress. It hit an exceptional high during the bridge, and within seconds, it transitions back into a beat with simplistic production. It was disappointing, but once you get over the fact of it, sometimes Magic fits the emotional vibe when you get comfortable to it. The same goes to A Sky Full of Stars, which was produced and co-written by Avicii, it was great, but not the Coldplay most people were known to. While the EDM part does feel strange and weird on a Coldplay song, rather than replacing it with the big hyperventilating drums and guitars, it wasn't necessarily all that bad.
I guess that sums up the entire album really. Most of the tracks are forgettable easily (Another's Arms, Oceans) and most of the lyrics on the album don't impress as well. Obviously, most of the tracks are really throwback to their previous albums (Parachute for instance) and for a listener who hasn't really delved back into their past, I can say that it is pretty passable. Most of the tracks on the album don't really gather up the courage to hit rock solid, and it seems that they are just picked up from leftovers. I was really confused and perplexed at how some of the material doesn't really make up half of what Coldplay was and would be. While I consider this an experimental step forward, it doesn't really prove much on it's own.
That's when you realise that maybe Ghost Stories is the full complete package for everything. It has the charged melodies, interesting lyrics, powerful Chris Martin vocals (on many occasions) and while others may feel that it may be shortchanged, I feel it is enough to warrant a place in the top 3 of my Coldplay album's list (behind Rush and Viva La Vida in my opinion). However, while I digress that for some it may not be the case, it is a comfortable album that I would recommend to anyone. However, most might not dig the sound that accompanies this album.
Favourite Tracks: Magic, A Sky Full of Stars, Ink
Least Favourite Tracks: Another's Arms, O
Is it impressive? No. Is it the same Coldplay? No. Is it better than Mylo Xyloto? Some would argue but I would say yes. All in all, there are tracks for the faithful and there are tracks for the overall populous. It's not a great album, but it's above average decent.
The Hunting Party - it's official. June 13 2014 is the date where Linkin Park releases their sixth studio album and I am hyped. Am I hyped about the singles so far? Well, they have been far and in between. This is a review of their latest single, Until It's Gone.
To be honest, the track starts out a little different from what you got to taste with Guilty All The Same. Obviously, the tracks are similar in that they are much more heavier in terms of production (Rob's drums, Chester's vocals, Brad's guitars) but this track just felt out of place. Let's go back to some of the positives I got out of this track.
First, Chester's vocals were finally back and hitting hard. It could be because Guilty All The Same needed a different type of drive, but in this single, he hammers another home-run that brings me straight back to their Hybrid Theory and Meteora days.
Secondly, the song starts out very strong. You can hear some of the synths in the forefront sort of leading the guitars on the track and they mesh well together with such ease. The drums on here are always kicking and Rob's got it all on check.
However, while I wanted this to be Linkin Park's 'next big thing', I was left disappointed and oftentimes left wondering. While I question Mike's absence (he produced the album alongside Brad, in which case legendary producer Rick Rubin has finally put his hands off the band), the song was meant to fit on a heavier scale, in which too much energy was focused into.
First, while the rock roots and the heavier instrumentals played a huge role into Linkin Park succeeding and granted a worldwide loyal fanbase, I cannot fail to contemplate that while they haven't gotten in touch with their old music in a long time, they were too eager to delve into it. Some of the production on here were simply sub-par. They were just not good enough. The mix of drums, guitars and synth after the chorus made the track felt more unfocused than it should have been.
Secondly, the lyrics suffered drastically. Not even thought-provoking at best and fails to make any impact at all. That said, lyrical repetition has always been in Linkin Park's catalog, they definitely overdid it this time in my opinion.
However, does that mean the track is not good? It's fine, but sometimes it's the kind of track that gets left out of albums because of a few things. Maybe the song was rushed because it made very little impact. Still, it's a decent track, though Guilty All The Same does edge it out on a little high.
I've always been a big fan of Linkin Park, but sometimes, you start to wonder if they still have steam left in their ever-running engine. While I anticipate The Hunting Party, I fear for the worst as well.
The re-release of Native for this year certainly has seen a new single emerge from the band with an enthusiastic approach. However, can Ryan Tedder and co. see success with life after Counting Stars?
As I've said with a throwback review, production was one of the highlights of Native. Every aspect was crafted very well, which we've heard from some tracks like What You Wanted, Preacher and the successful single, Counting Stars. But the lyrics under-delivered slightly, which was a problem that has plagued the band since their debut album back in 2007. Still, what Ryan Tedder brings to the table is just simply exceptional.
Named Rolling In The Deep v.2 by most fans, Love Runs Out sinks back into the band's prominent side of an engaging melody and simply giving into what they do best. Ryan's falsettos does feel out of place (similarly to Ed Sheeran's Sing I reviewed a week ago) but it is no doubt able to groove and move without having to pull off fantastic high notes so as to keep the melody flowing.
The track itself does start off with what is a very intriguing fashion, before going on a piano-chord rampage that strings all the way to the chorus, which explodes like a dormant volcano. The best part of the track has no doubt got to be it's hook. So satisfying, enriching and livid that Ryan's vocals bring to the chorus is just simply too good to miss out, which made their original Native singles (Feel Again, If I Lose Myself, etc.) so enjoyable while not exactly covering all of the cracks which are simply obvious to the listener.
All in all, Love Runs Out is too easy to like and definitely fits OneRepublic's catalog. You could say that had the song been on the album in the first place, it would've made a difference. Truth is, it doesn't matter and there are
Track is solid. Nothing more has to be said about it.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.